History of The West Winds Gins
The West Winds Gins were created by four intrepid and adventurous Aussies who wanted to realise a vision – to produce distinctive Australian gin that would rival the best in the world. They wanted to create Damn Fine Gin, from Australia.
The resulting journey began in a bar in Balaclava in suburban Melbourne in 2010 when 2005 42BELOW World Cocktail Champion Jason Chan took Paul White (engineer, and distiller), Jeremy Spencer (spirits industry identity), and James Clarke (wine industry expert) through a lineup of gins as he espoused his vision: two gins, both savoury in character, one at 40% incorporating toasted Australian wattle seed and one at 50% incorporating native Australian bush tomato.
Just over a year later in early 2011, Tailor Made released the two artisan gins into the market. The vision had come to fruition. The Sabre, a London Dry Gin, at 40% with toasted wattle seed and The Cutlass, the stronger 50% with kutjera (native bush tomato) were ready for consumption.
The Cutlass and The Sabre were both submitted to the 2011 San Francisco International Spirits Competition, taking Double Gold and Gold awards respectively. With this The West Winds Gins were launched to an appreciative international crowd who were embracing the resurgence and revival of artisanal distilling.
The secret to their immediate success was due to their use of distinctly Australian botanicals with a selection of more traditional ingredients, creating exceptional contemporary Australian gins.
The prestigious ‘Double Gold’ for The Cutlass was a first for an Australian gin producer and was not a fluke. Both The Cutlass and The Sabre have gone on to reap other global awards including a second Double Gold for The Cutlass after the Company’s second entry in the San Francisco Competition again in 2013.
The premium gins have been rewarded with Australian accolades including The Best On-premise Spirit or Liqueur at the 2013 Australian Liquor Industry Awards in 2013 and Champion Gin at the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards 2014.
In 2014, our newest gin, to be released to the Australian market in 2015, was awarded Double Gold at the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition.
The West Winds Gins are unashamedly different and uniquely Australian. Inspired by seafarers, distilled by craftsmen, The West Winds Gins are Damn Fine Gins, from Australia.
Watch Jez talking about the Origins of the Gins
Our distinctive, handcrafted gins rely on a perfect balance of ingredients. Each must be complimentary to the other to make the best gin we can.
So it is with the people that make The West Winds Gin. Each has a specialist skill or knowledge and each is as different as the other. Collectively, the right recipe is the reason for our success.
Who is behind The West Winds Gins?
Paul “The Doctor’ White
Head of Navigation, Coordination and Ship’s Doctor
Paul is our Chief Distiller and CEO.
Paul’s background is eclectic to say the least. After completing an engineering degree, he worked in the software industry for IBM and other IT heavyweights prior to moving to Boston to undertake an MBA at MIT in 1997.
He then spent the next five years in Chicago working for large companies in the insurance, telecommunications, biotech and software industries before returning to Perth in 2004.
Paul worked with a number of start-up companies prior to joining the University of Western Australia to run a project developing medical research software.
At the same time he started a boutique distillery, and here he is now producing Australia’s (and arguably the world’s) best gin!
Paul is a great dad to three brilliant boys, loves to surf, sail and snowboard.
James ‘Mayo’ Clarke
Deck Scrubber, Flag-Furler and Strategy
James heads up Sales and Marketing Administration.
After graduating from University in Perth in 1990, James worked in sales and marketing for some of Western Australia’s most respected wine brands – Evans and Tate, Pipers Brook and Sandalford.
James and Paul had known one another from Perth and after hearing Paul had purchased a 150 litre pot sill, James couldn’t wait to join Paul in making gin and becoming a part of this dynamic collective. James is also an avid surfer and sailor.
Jeremy ‘Jez’ Spencer
Rear Admiral, Booze and Buccaneering
Jez handles Sales, Marketing and Events
Jeremy Spencer, is a man of many talents. Initially starting a commerce degree, Jeremy soon realised he was not cut out for life in a suit and has dedicated his professional career to the liquor industry.
He worked for well-known rum producer, Appleton Estate, and then international giant, Jack Daniels, before becoming a disgruntled publican in Melbourne.
He credits ‘drink slinging’ as his favourite past time, which is why he has been an integral part of The West Wind Gin’s’ success in its short life span to date.
He is passionate about gin and by his account the way to drink it is in a Gin Old Fashioned – with lemon bitters, fresh grapefruit and their award winning gin, The Sabre.
Jason ‘Jackie’ Chan
Creative Development – the Cocktail King
Jason is the company’s ‘Palate’
Cocktail mastermind and champion, Jason Chan is responsible for product design, industry training and is the palate behind the gin.
The fit is perfect considering he has dedicated his 20-year career to the alcohol industry. His experience spans sales and the on-premise liquor industry.
Jason uses his super-human taste buds to create mouth-watering cocktails with The West Winds Gin. These same buds took him to the 42 Below Vodka World Cocktail Championship in 2005 where he proudly walked away victorious.
World class drinks come naturally to Jason, and The West Winds Gin is a world class environment for Jason to thrive in.